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Old 05-19-2011, 03:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default What to look at when buying a Sami?

Hello guys 9and gals). Been lurking here for a while doing my research in preparation to purchase a Samurai.

We have two small kids and an RV and dot a lot of long weekend camping trips. We recently upgraded from a travel trailer (with my truck pulling it) to a drivable class C. Problem is now we need a vehicle to get around town and to drive back into the woods etc..

The Samis look to be the perfect option as they can be towed pretty easily (I know about starting them every 250 miles or disconnecting the drive shaft etc..)

I know that rust is a big issue in these trucks. What else should I keep and eye out for?

Thanks...
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Old 05-20-2011, 08:30 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Most important thing in my opinion, rust.
Besides that, if I could do it again, I would look for the most stock looking, best condition one I could find. If you decide you want a lift or bigger tires after using it some, they are so easy to work on it's no big deal.
Of course check the engine oil, and other fluids and make sure everything is full, but that's any vehicle. If you can really go over the truck before buying, check the diffs and transfer case and transmission and make sure they have oil in them and aren't full of water. Lift up the carpet under your feet in the front to look for rust. (Water can collect there when the top is left off in the rain.) Look around underneath a little for bent parts, shock mounts, springs, might tell you if it's had a hard life or not.
The good thing about them, though, is that everything is easy to replace.
Except rust.
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Old 05-20-2011, 08:42 AM   #3 (permalink)
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If you live in a state where rusty vehicles are common due to salt, etc... consider making a road trip to get one from another climate. There are lots of them running around in the desert SW and most are real clean. The only rust I found in mine was in the battery tray from where a battery had leaked a little.
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Old 05-20-2011, 10:18 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I've towed my Samurai to the ends of the earth, well N. America at least, and it's held up pretty well (this year it's Calgary, AB ). Although I'm attentive to maintenance, we've still had some problems. Last year I got flatbed-towed out of Death Valley to Nevada when a front wheel bearing disintegrated under tow. It's hard to know there's a problem back there while under way.

Samurais are old vehicles these days. All the wear-out items will have worn out by now; I'm on my second or third round of some parts. I've replaced all the U-joints before 150K miles. I'm in a serious smog state, so I have extra effort to keep the rig street legal. Most of the places I want to explore off-road REQUIRE street legal vehicles (e.g. state/national parks). I'd be especially alert to modifications by a previous owner that might impact the truck's ability to pass annual inspections, smog or otherwise. The later models have electronic fuel injection and are said to run much better. ECM's are prone to a leaky electrolytic capacitor failure, which can be remedied (by replacement) if caught early. My Calif '93 has no back seat for your kids. Billjohn has posted here "that the 92 was the first year they didn't offer a rear seat here in the US". Read that thread; it may be possible to add one. My driver's seat was not in great condition, but was rebuildable.

Perhaps it's obvious, but the fluids will reveal a lot about the condition of the parts. I changed them ALL immediately after purchase. My radiator and water pump were leaky, and the fan clutch was bad, although that took a while to discover. The distributor O-ring seal is notorious for leaking, and even new valve cover gaskets begin leaking quickly. Taking the truck to the DIY car-wash with the pressure spray wands lets me keep the rig clean and identify leaks. I've had to replace leaky old & rock-hard front seal and transmission seals. Both the clutch and throttle cable have broken at awkward moments.
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Old 05-20-2011, 09:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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My advise would be to look it over real good sounds kind of obvious but check everything. Unless its a cheap beater I check every light, horn wipers, doors windows ac if equiped. the seller if not a liar is often ignorant of problems. A Sidekick I looked at was decent but the seller said he didnt know it had power steering (he was 80 years old) the power steering fluid was bone dry The Ac blew air but compresser didnt work and was frozen.
Id say spend a little more getting a very nice contition vehicle. Unless you are a very capable mechanic. If you cant or wont do a lot of this work yourself, then definatly save and spend more.
Lastly, take your time looking in a short time you can get a feel for the fair prices.
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